Learn about the top ten most ludicrous things you can do on your web site.
We have a running joke in our office that one day we’ll load a page and it will say “You have reached the end of the World Wide Web” and it will be the truth. I’ve visited so many web sites in my time, it’s unreal. There are a few web site features and practices that keep popping up, in spite of their highly detrimental nature. I find myself, day in and day out, advising clients to remove something or other from their web site, as it is stunting their online business potential. But cleaning up the World Wide Web one client at a time isn’t very efficient, so I’ll share with you the Top 10 most ludicrous things you can do on your web site, and hopefully we’ll get this mess cleaned up.
1. Frames - Most of you are probably rolling your eyes right now, saying “I know, I know” but there not only still is a large amount of sites that use frames, there’s actually a very dangerous counter-argument to this going on.
Frames section off your web site, making multiple smaller windows within one page. It sounds harmless enough, but the code behind a page with frames is very short, only referring to the pages that fill in the smaller windows. This hides any text you have on the page, any headings, any links, image names and alt text, comment tags, and a lot more from search engines. In short, frames hide 99% of your site’s content from the view of search engines, fooling them into thinking your site is virtually bare.
Now, recently Google has announced that their search algorithm is newly able to see past frames and find all of your site’s content. Problems remain, though, in that the algorithm does not yet index pages with frames well. This also doesn’t fix the problem with other search engines.
There’s some kind of Rebel Frames Force or something that use Google’s new indexing ability as an argument for frames, among other even less valid points. “But what about this and what about that” they argue. I say to you, rebel framers, why bother I really don’t understand why this inane argument continues. You can easily avoid any potentially harmful side-effects of frames by using tables. It looks exactly the same, if not better, and we know for sure that all search engine robots can decipher the uncomplicated table code. A smart site owner would simply not take the risk.
2. Keyword-rich Text Embedded in Images - Another fabulous way to shoot yourself in the proverbial foot. Search engines can’t read text in an image, so if most of your web site’s textual content is within images, you’re pretty much done for. Come on people, keywords are what make the Web go ‘round! The idea is to have as many applicable keywords as possible within your site visible by search engines, right So it really doesn’t make much sense to take some of those keywords and hide them. There is no counter-argument to this. It’s simple, if you want traffic, get your keywords out of images.
3. Entrance Pages/Flash Intros - This practice will not just have a negative impact on search engine optimization, it also subtracts from your site’s user-friendliness.
Search engine robots want to find out what your site is about as soon as they can. In other words, they want to find content on the front page. This means that there absolutely must be keyword-rich text on your opening page. It is fairly easy to comply with this while having an intro page, but it doesn’t solve the user-friendliness issue.
Think, for a moment, about how you surf the web. If you’re like the majority of surfers, you’re looking for information and you want to find it fast. Simply put, an intro page is one more step that has to be taken before getting to the good stuff. Speaking from personal experience, if a site has a flash intro or an entrance page and I’m in a rush which defines my life, I’ll leave and find another source of the info I’m looking for. Essentially, I feel that sites with such opening pages, have little respect for my time and I don’t want to venture into the site any further to find out how many other ways the site owner has found to elongate the simple act of supplying information. It’s simply easier to find another site. Really, what exactly is the purpose of an entrance page Try as I might, I just can’t think of one.
4. Music - O.K., This is my biggest pet peeve. There is nothing more annoying than sitting down on Sunday morning, steaming cup of coffee in hand, opening iTunes to listen to the latest R.E.M., starting to surf the web and suddenly hearing a midi version of Greensleeves turn Losing My Religion into something that sounds more like a cat dying.
With the growing popularity of mp3s, you’ll be hard pressed to find someone who doesn’t listen to their own music while they’re on the web. It is absolutely guaranteed that you’ll turn some visitors away from your site if you insist on having music load with it.
“But, what if I offer a button that will turn the music off” some people ask. Most web site visitors who are listening to music won’t stick around long enough to find your off button. In my case, as soon as I hear one note, I hit the back button. There is always another site to find the information I’m looking for.
5. Large Media - Java applets, video media and images can be a real pain in the you-know-what when they haven’t been optimized. There are so many poorly written java apps out there that will actually crash browsers. Large videos and images will cause your site to load slowly and visitors to leave before they even see the fully-loaded page.
Make sure you test any java apps across several browsers. If there’s any delay in loading, trash it or fix it.
Optimizing large images is also necessary. Adobe ImageReady will significantly cut down the loading time of your image while saving it’s quality and dimensions.
Video should be an option. Never have it load with your site. Most people don’t have the time to sit around watching videos on web sites, let alone wait for videos to load. Pictures and text will tell your story just as easily.
Internet users still use dial-up accounts and with the rise of people accessing the internet from their mobile devices, shaving every second possible off the loading time of your site will ensure that visitors do not get impatient and leave.